A group of Nigerian stowaways has accused a bulker crew of killing two of their number and abandoning the rest of them.

The incident involving the 51,000-dwt Ophelia (built 2002) has gained widespread coverage in African media.

Chris Teah, the head of Liberia’s Joint Security Task Force in Grand Kru, told FrontPageAfrica that the ship left Lagos five days ago.

He said the vessel was less than a mile from the coast when six Nigerians swam ashore.

“They told us that they were 14 Nigerians and they were told that they were going to Japan,” Teah said.

The group said they had spent five days without food and water.

When they were discovered by the seafarers, they claim to have been sprayed with hot water.

Two of the group were then killed in unexplained circumstances, Teah reported.

The remaining stowaways claim to have been thrown into the sea.

Those allegedly killed on the ship were identified as Frank and Osas Velurobo.

Others rescued

Six more men were rescued by Liberian authorities.

However, the ship’s crew have yet to give their side of the story. Operator Sea Ray Shipping of Qingdao, China, could not immediately be contacted.

AIS data for the vessel stopped on 8 August in the Gulf of Guinea.

The ship is listed as insured by the Swedish Club, which said it does not comment on individual incidents.

The bulker was heading from Lagos to Orino in Japan.

There has been no contact between Liberian authorities and the vessel, according to Teah.

In 2020, seven Chinese officers were fined in South Africa after throwing two Tanzanian stowaways off their bulker.

The men had pleaded guilty to attempted murder at Durban Magistrate’s Court.

Captain Cui Rongli, of the 61,000-dwt Top Grace (built 2016), was sentenced to a fine of ZAR 100,000 ($5,300). He would have faced four years in prison if he had failed to come up with the cash.